Celebrating the Legacy of Local Culinarian and Historian

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This entry is part [part not set] of 23 in the series Ecurrent Newsletter

Ann Arbor Loses a Legend

In August of this year, Ann Arbor culinarian and historian extraordinaire Janice Bluestein Longone passed away at the remarkable age of 89.

She left behind a culinary legacy which will educate and delight others for decades to come. Her influence was vast and touched people all across the country, but many of her accomplishments were based right here in Ann Arbor. Lucky us!

U of M’s Jan Longone Culinary Archive

According to Juli McLoone, Curator of the Special Collections Research Center at the University of Michigan Library, “Jan and

Longone began donating their personal collection to form the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the University of Michigan in the early 2000s and have since continued to make additional donations each year. Today, the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive encompasses more than 20,000 items, including over 8,000 cookbooks, household guides, etiquette manuals, and the like, as well as 200 boxes filled with advertising ephemera for everything from Jell-O ice cream powder to Vermont maple syrup, and over 100 boxes of menus from every state in the U.S. as well as menus depicting dining aboard trains, ships, and airplanes.”

Jan and Dan Longone during Christmas 2019. Photo provided by Juli McLoone.

McLoone first met Longone in 2015 when she assumed curatorship of the JBLCA. one of several collections she builds and promotes although she admits culinary history holds a special place in her heart.

“On first meeting Jan, I was immediately impressed by both her depth of knowledge and her passion for ensuring culinary sources be preserved and made accessible to students and scholars. She was so generous with her time to anyone interested in pursuing research on the history of food and drink,” McLoone said.

Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor

In 1983, co-founder Longone held the first meeting of what was to become the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor right in her living room. The purpose of the group is to bring together people interested in the study of culinary history and gastronomy.

All are welcome to attend the monthly meetings held September through May.  The next meeting will be held on October 9 at 4 p.m. at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library. It will also be live streamed on YouTube.

Zingerman’s

The vast majority of Ann Arborites have heard of and likely sampled fare from at least one of Zingerman’s eateries. But, did you know Longone’s help was critical to the launch of the first restaurant and their future successes?

This goes back 40 years to the very pre-internet era when it was much more difficult to do research and readily find information.

However, Jan had a “basement library” full of culinary books which were immensely useful to co-founders and partners Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw.

Described by Weinzweig as a “walking culinary archive,” they could ask her anything and if she didn’t have the answer she knew where to find it. She frequented Zingerman’s over the many years and her husband is still a patron.

To say Longone has influenced the culinary world is an understatement. And we were lucky enough to have her right here in Ann Arbor. Bon appétit, Jan!

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